"Here we go to the main course!" ad-libs Van Morrison on an extended "Caravan," one of the shaggy outtakes on this fi ve-disc unpacking of the Belfast bard's 1970 jazzy-pop masterpiece. That LP is nearly all main course, and if the numerous alternate takes here often feel incomplete without their sublime, brassy final arrangements, they compensate with intimacy – see "Into the Mystic," take 11, mainly just Morrison and acoustic guitar. The set's grail is the long-lost outtake "I Shall Sing," a Caribbean-style confection that became a signature for many (Miriam Makeba, Judy Mowatt, Art Garfunkel). Its author delivers a meaty, scatted-up reading here, alongside a ferocious early version of the soul burner "I've Been Working" (His Band and the Street Choir) and a roadhouse-piano reading of Bessie Smith's "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" – the sound of an Irish bluesman cruising at high altitude.
From The Archives Issue 1195: November 7, 2013